Dieppe Park Memorial

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The Beach Strip
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A memorial service was held at Dieppe Park on August 19.
Dieppe Park is located next to Manor Ave near the Canal.


Aug. 20, 12:46 EDT
The horror of Dieppe
Veterans remember comrades, educate the young 'to prevent war'
Allan Pulga
The Hamilton Spectator
Ron Pozzer, the Hamilton Spectator

Sixty-two years ago yesterday, Jack McFarland was 21 years old and standing on a beach in France.
He'd expected sand, but found stones.
McFarland was at Dieppe. Sand or stones seems odd to stand out in one's mind after witnessing one of the bloodiest battles in Canadian military history, but perhaps his mind was prepared for the rest of it.
"The Germans were waiting with machine-guns on the hills on each side of us," he recalled.
McFarland was one of 582 members of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI) who stormed that beach on Aug. 19, 1942.
The Rileys were among 5,000 Canadians who fought in the Dieppe raid. Of the 6,100 Allied soldiers involved, 1,000 were killed and 2,300 captured.
Yesterday, the RHLI Veterans Association held a remembrance service at Hamilton's Dieppe Memorial Park on Beach Boulevard. About 150 people gathered, including numerous veterans. Eight of the remaining 23 Dieppe Rileys were there.
Nearly 200 Rileys were killed at Dieppe. Only 211 returned to England, 109 of them wounded.
"It was rough and we had no chance," said McFarland. "We were stopped by the wall."
He points to the grey wall at the back of the memorial, built to simulate the fortifications at Dieppe. "That's where most of the casualties suffered -- behind that wall."
McFarland, now 83, was shot in the arm and held prisoner by the Germans for 2 1/2 years. Being in combat was horrible, but he's happy he survived to tell others about Dieppe. "If we don't know what happened in the past, we're liable to repeat it in the future," he said.
"We speak to students and tell them about our experiences but we're not glorifying war. We're preparing people to prevent war."
Fewer and fewer veterans remain to share their stories. "It's strange to think about, that there are so few left," said 22-year-old Jason McFarland, Jack's grandson.
"We should recognize them now, while they're still alive."
Jason, who has heard a number of his grandfather's war stories, said he can't believe "how brutal it was" or how young the soldiers were.
James Forsyth, honorary colonel of the RHLI, said Dieppe Memorial Park which opened last Aug. 19 is a way to keep the Dieppe vets' legacy alive.
"There are two reasons for this memorial: to remember those who died at Dieppe and to educate future generations about what happened at Dieppe -- why it happened and why it should never happen again."
He recently confronted the reality that in the future, no Dieppe vets will remain.
But even as they pass on, there will be services held at the Memorial Park every Aug. 19.
"They will never be forgotten."
apulga@thespec.com
905-526-4629
 
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